Regulators eye German TV ad giants

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COLOGNE, Germany -- Germany's competition authority, the Bundeskartellamt, has raided the offices of the country's two largest TV ad sales agencies looking for evidence of price fixing.

The Bundeskartellamt searched the offices of RTL Television's IP Deutschland agency and ProSiebenSat.1's SevenOne Media on Tuesday, the two companies confirmed.

Authorities are looking into accusations that IP and SevenOne have been violating competition laws by working together to shut out smaller competitors.

The companies are accused of jointly offering significant rebates to major ad buyers if the customers agree to buy large ad packages from both companies.

The TV channels represented by IP and SevenOne together account for about 80% of the total television advertising expenditure in Germany. If the two companies have been cooperating, it would likely be considered a major violation of Germany's anti-cartel laws.

The Bundeskartellamt stressed it has not yet brought any charges against the companies and is still investigating the accusations.

ProSiebenSat.1 on Wednesday said that it does not believe its ad sales firm has acted illegally. IP confirmed Tuesday's search but declined further comment.
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